Iowa Workforce Development has asked the bankruptcy judge handling the Agriprocessors case to cut the $10-million in fines against the Postville meatpacking plant. Workforce Development spokesperson, Kerry Koonce, says they felt this was the best way to see the company pays something for the violations.
Koonce says the requests asks the judge to cut the original fines down to one-million dollars and puts into the settlement process that the claim is a priority claim that would get paid right after secured debts. Koonce says changing the status of the fines is key to getting any money that’s available.
She says the original fine falls in line with other unsecured debt, and she says it looks likely there wouldn’t be funds to pay the fines unless its status is changed. Koonce says they are awaiting to hear back on the proposal and hope the judge agrees with the state.
Koonce says everyone wants to see the case get settled, and wants the company to come out of bankruptcy since a buyer is lined up.
"Hopefully since it has been agreed upon by both parties, hopefully the judge will look favorably on it and agree to this," Koonce says. Koonce says they are asking for the fines to be reduced, but that doesn’t take away from the impact as they are going after the fine they can collect.
Koonce says they are still punishing the company and in no way taking away from the fact they believe the company violated the regulations. Iowa Workforce Development alleged that Agriprocessors made illegal deductions from employee paychecks.
Agriprocessors went into bankruptcy in the wake of an immigration raid in May of 2008 where nearly 400 workers were arrested. S-H-F Industries — a company formed by a Canadian businessman and his son-in-law — has agreed to purchase the plant for eight-and-a-half million dollars.